1. “What’s the point of working so hard if I can’t spoil myself a little?” This one’s a classic, because it’s hard to argue with. Especially if you’ve had a particularly stressful week (or day) at work, it’s difficult to comprehend the idea that you shouldn’t reap the rewards of your labor. This becomes troublesome, however, when that work pays nothing (being a student, for example, or an intern) or very little (like being a freelance writer).
2. “It’s for my health.” It’s really hard to feel guilty spending money on things like gym memberships and vitamins. And why should you? If you feel healthy and look great, you’ll only make more money in the future. Right? Right, guys?
3. “But it’s on sale!” When you see something you want marked down even a little below it’s full price, even if you didn’t know until that moment that you wanted it, it’s easy to take that as a sign from God that you have to buy it right then. If it’s something you definitely would’ve bought eventually, then this makes sense—but it’s easy to slip into a fugue state and convince yourself that buying a $500 item you don’t need for $450 is basically like finding $50 on the street.
4. “I got a new job!” This is a great one because it means a.) there will be money coming your way soon, so it’s fine to put something on your credit card, b.) you probably need some new work clothes, and c.) you did something awesome and deserve a reward.
5.“I didn’t get a new job.” This one’s a little harder to justify because it means that, in fact, there isn’t any new money coming your way. And maybe you don’t know when there ever will be again. So really, you should save every penny you have, buy cheap groceries and cook all of your meals at home. But none of that matters when you feel like the world kicked you in the balls by withholding something you really want. That bastard owes you. And sometimes what it owes you is a present, regardless of whether or not you can “afford it.”
6. “I have a date!” Sometimes nothing in your closet will do, and you need to buy a new dress or a new bra or at least a new lipstick to be your most confident, charming self.
7. “I don’t have a date.” If nobody else is gonna love you, you have to at least love yourself, right? There’s nothing wrong with taking yourself out to a nice dinner or buying yourself a super thoughtful present that, oh my god, is exactly what you wanted! Just don’t go overboard and start wrapping the presents and leaving them on your pillow for yourself. Or do. ‘Cause why not.
8. Big Ticket Amnesia: This is a great disorder to have. It’s a complete mental block that makes it impossible to think about huge purchases. Some people like to stress out and feel remorse after splurging on something expensive, especially if they don’t “need it” (what does that even mean, anyway?). But what’s done is done, so save yourself some anguish, throw out the receipt, and act like you’ve always owned those $300 shoes.
Lilly O’Donnell blogs about women’s issues for Bust Magazine, and rants about America’s student debt crisis to anyone who will listen. She’s also working on her first book; a biography of her deceased artist father and a study of the creative lifestyle. She tweets.